A functional resume presents your primary occupational competencies, beginning with your area of greatest expertise. It describes each of these workplace skills and abilities, illustrates your experience in using them on the job, and details the results you achieved — all benefits if you are in a technical field or you have a general or managerial background and a career path with one or more breaks.
Deciding to Use a Functional Resume
Understanding a functional resume’s strengths and limitations can help you determine whether this format is a good
match with your background and ambitions.
Citing the strengths
A functional resume works well if you want to
1. Highlight what you can do and how well you can do it. The functional resume helps you illustrate your potential to a prospective employer by showing how you applied skills and abilities in prior jobs.
2. Present your qualifications according to your level of expertise. By organizing your employment information based on your performance at work, you can focus on your record of actual achievement rather on the time you spent in prior positions.
3. Effectively describe a nontraditional career path. The functional resume concentrates on the skills you have acquired and applied regardless of the type and sequence of jobs you’ve held.
Looking at the limitations
To fully appreciate the functional resume’s possible place in your job-search efforts, you need to consider a few drawbacks. This style of resume may
1. Make it difficult for employers to evaluate your work record. By omitting your employment history, the functional resume forces employers to sift through a less structured presentation of your prior work to gauge the level of professional competency and success.
2. Be tough to write because you must synthesize your record into skill areas. Rather than depend on an orderly record of your work history, the functional resume requires that you look across all your employment experiences to identify and describe your strongest
skills and abilities.
3. Obscure organizational advancement. Because it focuses on your skills and abilities, a functional resume doesn’t provide the framework for demonstrating your steady progress through ever-increasing responsibility throughout your career history.
Weighing these factors, you can see that a functional resume may serve you well if you’ve developed an array of different skills, worked in a variety of unrelated positions, or if you seek to change careers. This sort of presentation probably is not your best choice if your career has progressed through a traditional path of sustained advancement in a particular field or industry.
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Knowing where to start — and how to carry through
Preparing a resume of any type can seem like a formidable task at first, but by following this seven-step process you can put together a winning presentation of your skills and abilities.
To develop your functional resume, complete this plan:
- Collect your employment information. Include any position descriptions and recruitment ads for your previous or current jobs, performance appraisals, project or work descriptions, awards and other professional recognition (for example, certificates of achievement for project contributions), educational record and certificates of completion for training programs, and materials describing your affiliation and participation with professional organizations.
- Organize your materials according to the skills you are/were able to apply on-the-job, beginning with the skill in which you’ve gained the highest level of expertise.
- Prioritize the materials. Use your objective statement to determine three categories of information:
- Critical to supporting your objective and must be included
- Helpful in supporting your objective and should be included if space permits
- Not essential in supporting your objective and can be omitted
- Write a first draft of your resume. See the next section for details on developing the content and format of your functional resume.
- Revise your draft. Modify the information you’ve presented and, if necessary, delete selected segments in order to achieve a maximum length of two pages. Limit deletions to that information you judge to be helpful but not critical to supporting your objective.
- Edit your draft. Carefully review your draft for misspellings and grammatical, typographical, and other errors. Then ask a friend to review the document to ensure that you have not overlooked any errors and that all the information is easily read and understood.
- Produce your resume, using either a laser printer or the services of a professional print shop. Use a font size of 11–12 points, high-quality white paper, and black ink. Print each page on a separate sheet of paper rather than on the front and back of the same page.